Novig Raises $6.4M in Seed Funding for Sports Betting Exchange

Jacob Fortinsky and Kelechi Ukah, co-founders of Novig, initially connected as friends during their time at Harvard University. Their shared interests, including poker games, brought them together. Despite their diverse academic backgrounds and career aspirations, they are now working together in the field of sports betting as co-founders of Novig. This innovative sports betting exchange is set to launch in Colorado, aiming to provide a unique platform for users. The company recently secured $6.4 million in seed funding to support its launch and growth.

Fortinsky’s background includes studies in philosophy, political science, and economics, along with experience in legal research and investment banking. He considered pursuing law school or a PhD.

Ukah, on the other hand, studied physics and math, and he took a break from school during the COVID-19 pandemic to work at CERN. He also interned at Jane Street, a well-known quantitative trading firm. His career decisions were influenced by the choice between becoming a Wall Street trader or pursuing a career as a physics professor and researcher.

sports betting exchange novig

Jacob Fortinsky and Kelechi Ukah have put their previous career plans on hold as they recognized a promising opportunity in the rapidly growing sports betting market, both in the United States and internationally. Despite the fact that most legal sports betting in the U.S. is conducted through sportsbooks rather than exchanges, Fortinsky and Ukah saw a chance to innovate and create an impact in this field.

Their vision has garnered significant support from investors, evident in the funds they raised during Novig’s seed round. Leading the seed round was Lux Capital, with participation from various other venture capital firms, Y Combinator, Joe Montana (Pro Football Hall of Famer), and renowned startup investor Paul Graham. The funding was secured at an average post-money valuation of approximately $33 million, underscoring the strong interest and confidence in Novig’s potential.

Jacob Fortinsky initiated Novig in March 2021, and Kelechi Ukah joined later in the year, during their respective semesters at Harvard University. The company secured an $800,000 pre-seed funding round in February 2022 and participated in the Y Combinator program during the following summer.

Unlike traditional sportsbooks that impose fees, Novig operates as a peer-to-peer sports betting exchange, similar to stock exchanges or online marketplaces. The platform aims to attract high-frequency traders and offers fee-free betting for most users, while those with net winnings exceeding $10,000 may incur small fees.

Novig recently underwent a successful beta test with 200 users, processing 15,500 orders and achieving instant bet confirmation. In contrast, conventional sportsbooks can take up to 80 seconds to approve bets.

The company’s major challenge lies in obtaining approval from individual U.S. states and forming partnerships with land-based casinos to operate. Currently approved to operate in Colorado, Novig intends to expand to other states, starting with New Jersey and Ohio, and eventually to international markets over the next 2 to 2.5 years. Fortinsky envisions diversifying beyond sports and exploring additional sectors.

We’ve seen moves in the space lately including ESPN Bet and Yahoo acquiring Wagr.

Industry Trends & Analysis

The future of sports delivered to your inbox every Thursday.

Related Articles

Industry Research & Analysis

Trends, news, & companies shaping the future of sports delivered to your inbox every Thursday.

Industry Research & Analysis

Trends, news, & companies shaping the future of sports delivered to your inbox every Thursday.